Review: Freeks

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Freeks by: Amanda Hocking

My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

Welcome to Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow, where necromancy, magical visions, and pyrokinesis are more than just part of the act…

Mara has always longed for a normal life in a normal town where no one has the ability to levitate or predict the future. Instead, she roams from place to place, cleaning the tiger cage while her friends perform supernatural feats every night.

When the struggling sideshow is miraculously offered the money they need if they set up camp in Caudry, Louisiana, Mara meets local-boy Gabe…and a normal life has never been more appealing.

But before long, performers begin disappearing and bodes are found mauled by an invisible beast. Mara realizes that there’s a sinister presence lurking in the town with its sights set on getting rid of the sideshow freeks. In order to unravel the truth before the attacker kills everyone Mara holds dear, she has seven days to take control of a power she didn’t know she was capable of—one that could change her future forever.

Bestselling author Amanda Hocking draws readers inside the dark and mysterious world of Freeks.

Beware spoilers ahead!

I received this E-ARC via St. Martin’s Griffin and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I am also participating in the blog tour. I had heard about this book through Netgalley. I was scrolling one day and came across this book. It sounded good and some of my friends were reading it. I am happy to say that I enjoyed this book!

The book is written in first person all in Mara’s point of view. Before every chapter there is a picture of a tarot card with the date and the year. This book does take place in the eighties.

The book begins with Mara and the circus traveling to their newest location. Mara’s mother and her boyfriend Gideon have a bad feeling about this location but they need the money. One of their former members lives in said town and promised them a good deal.

Mara would love the idea of living a normal life. While she likes her family on the circus, she would like to stay in one place and maybe start a family of her own. Whenever Mara reaches a new town she explores it the night before any of their performances.

While exploring the town and taking in all the houses Mara runs into this girl dragging her drunk boyfriend. Mara offers to help said girl. Later the girl invites Mara into the party where Mara meets the girl’s brother Gabe. She is instantly attracted to Gabe and spends the night with him.

The next day Mara’s mother is asking her whether she has seen one of their members and her roommate Blossom (I think that’s her name). Mara has not. This is actually quiet normal for Blossom to disappear and come back again. Which is why Mara doesn’t worry about her. On the other hand Mara’s mother has weird vibes about the town and sends Mara and Gideon to inform the police. Informing the police doesn’t really go anywhere but at least Mara’s mother is appeased.

As the book continues weird things start to happen to the circus crew. A majority of their powers aren’t working properly. More people have gone missing. Something seems to be only targeting and killing the circus crew, specifically those who are the most powerful. Mara actually starts having these nightmares about a woman screaming something at her in another language. And the town is just giving off weird vibes. The town thus far has do nothing to help. It’s up to Mara, the circus crew, and Gabe to figure out what’s going on.

To be honest I wasn’t sure what to except about this book. I had heard about Amanda Hocking before but have never actually read any of her other books. I was kind of surprised that I enjoyed this!

I really liked basically all of the characters! Mara’s voice felt real to me and I understood her longing to live a normal life. I have actually forgotten all but three characters names, so I don’t remember Mara’s friend’s names. Which sucks but is also not surprising seeing as I read this back in October 2016 and didn’t take any notes. I apologize in advance for any confusions.

I liked the relationship Mara had with her mother. It wasn’t complicated but instead the pair were quiet close. Mara and Gideon had a good relationship as well. Now you would think that they’d have an awkward relationship seeing as he is dating her mom, but surprisingly they were close as well. Gideon genuinely cared for Mara and all of the other performers.

The powers were really cool to read about! I actually didn’t hear about some of the powers so that was nice. Mara’s mother could predict the future using tarot cards and allowing the spirits to speak to her. This did have a negative affect on her physically and mentally. This was the same with all of their powers. I found this to be very original as I have never read about paranormal powers having negative effects on the people themselves.

Mara’s friends were nice and they all had a good relationship with one-another. Mara also becomes friends with Gabe’s sister whom I loved. As for Mara and Gabe’s romance it was very quick. It wasn’t insta-love so much as insta-attraction. Normally I don’t like reading about rushed romances, but I didn’t mind it in this book. I really liked Gabe so maybe that’s why I let it slide. There is an LGBTQIA romance as well. Both the characters are already dating before the book takes place so you didn’t get to see their romance develop.

The setting was fantastic! This was my first eighties book and it certainly won’t be my last. I also felt I was walking right next to Mara as she took in the town and described the circus and some of the places she went to.

I did not see any of the plot points coming! I found it very original and entertaining to read about. Note this book is more focused on the characters and the setting. It’s a decent pace but not a whole lot happens right away.

I only had one problem with this. In the beginning I found that not much happened in the book (which I mentioned above). It took awhile for some of the characters to go missing and for the circus to realize that there was something up with the town. After some time I got used to it. I started to get sucked in because I really enjoyed reading about the characters.

Overall this was a good standalone! I recommend this to anyone looking for a character driven standalone. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for this author.  

Review: Bound by Blood and Sand

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Bound by Blood and Sand by: Becky Allen

My Rating: 3 of 5 Stars

Jae is a slave in a dying desert world.

Once verdant with water from a magical Well, the land is drying up, and no one remembers the magic needed to keep the water flowing. If a new source isn’t found soon, the people will perish. Jae doesn’t mind, in a way. By law, she is bound by a curse to obey every order given her, no matter how vile. At least in death, she’ll be free.

Elan’s family rules the fading realm. He comes to the estate where Jae works, searching for the hidden magic needed to replenish the Well, but it’s Jae who finds it, and she who must wield it. Desperate to save his realm, Elan begs her to use it to locate the Well.

But why would a slave—abused, beaten, and treated as less than human—want to save the system that shackles her? Jae would rather see the world burn.

Though revenge clouds her vision, she agrees to help if the realm’s slaves are freed. Then Elan’s father arrives. The ruler’s cruelty knows no limits. He is determined that the class system will not change—and that Jae will remain a slave forever.

Beware spoilers ahead!

I received this Arc in participation of the blog tour and the Sunday street team. When I saw this book amongst the October SST I immediately signed up. I liked the synopsis and I thought that this book would be very interesting. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it!

I was not sure whether or not I would like this book. Considering that the main character is a slave I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to take. I was actually quite surprised that this book wasn’t graphic! Yes there were some scenes that were quite horrible but it didn’t bother me.

The book is written in third person alternating between Jae and Elan’s point of views. There are also some flashbacks that prove to be very important to the plot.

The book begins with Jae as she is tending to the garden. Unfortunately she cannot do that good of a job because Aredann (the estate where she lives) is lacking water. Her guardian Lady Shirrad allows Jae to use the water carefully as she is expecting a very important guest. 

Once her work is over Jae makes her way to her quarters and talks with her twin brother Tal. Their conversation is interrupted by another slave who mentions he has information on the guest that arrived. Said guest is Lord Elan who is a prince. The reason for the visit is to determine whether Aredann is worth saving. The Highest (Elan’s people) can only give so much water to the estates. According to said Closest (the slave) the Highest are planning on moving Lady Shirrad and her servants to another location so that they can pass the water along more easily. But the Closest will not be coming.

This is literally the most powerful book I have read to this day! It really makes you think about everything differently. Especially water and how there are so many people in this world that don’t have access to it. And wow the writing style was so good!

The magic system in this book was very interesting! The author manages to make you feel like you are with the characters going through their journey and suffering. It honestly felt like I was in a desert even though I was in my bedroom.

I especially liked reading about the characters and their relationships with one another. All the characters are gray and very well done! I liked all of them (expect Elan’s father) even Lady Shirrad, who in the end earned my respect. 

I loved Tal and Jae’s relationship. Tal brought the good side in Jae out. Tal was also quite sweet himself. Jae is a very different character than I am used to reading. She is very bitter and angry. But there is goodness in her. Elan was somewhat annoying in the beginning. Throughout the book he grew. His character development was my favourite to read about!

There is literally zero romance in this book! Which is something very rare in fantasy. Jae and Elan’s relationship was definitely interesting to read about. Jae despised Elan at first as the book continued they have an almost friendship. They trust each other but they’re not necessarily friends. I have feeling that they will become something more in the next book.

I enjoyed reading about Jae’s powers and how they connected to the Well. And the Well’s history was very interesting as well. I did not see that plot twist that came in the end! It was beautiful and depressing at the same time. Come to think of it I didn’t see anything coming.

This book is quite slow but I found that it worked for the plot. As it is also focused on the characters. I found that the author did a good job of balancing the plot with the flashbacks. They were became overbearing. In fact I looked forward to reading the flashbacks.

I didn’t have any problems with this book. It just felt like a 3 star read.

Overall I enjoyed this book! I will definitely be reading the sequel and possibly anything this author writes. I highly recommend this series to everybody! I personally feel that this is an important book that everyone should read.

Giveaway for a preoder of Bound by Blood and Sand! 

Review: The Lonely Ones

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The Lonely Ones by: Kelsey Sutton

My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

Purchase links: Amazon    Barnes and Noble   Penguin Random House   Indie Bound

Fain hasn’t always been lonely. Her family used to be close; she used to have good friends. But as circumstances—and people—changed, Fain was left behind. That’s when the monsters appeared.

While her parents argue and her peers and siblings either pick on or simply ignore her, Fain spends time in a world of her own making. During the day, she crafts stories of fantastical adventures, but in the darkness of night, these adventures come to life alongside a legion of imaginary creatures, with Fain as their queen.

In time, Fain begins to see possibilities and friendships emerge in her day-to-day, but when she is let down by the one relationship she thought she could trust, Fain must decide: remain queen of the imaginary creatures, or risk opening herself up to the fragile connections that can only be formed in the real world?

Told in lyrical free verse, The Lonely Ones reminds us of the need for imaginative play and the power of true friendship.

Beware spoilers ahead!

I received this E-ARC via Penguin Young Reader’s Group and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I am also participating in the Blog Tour for this book. 

I heard about this book from an email from Nichole at YAReads BlogTours. Nichole emailed asking whether or not I would be interested in participating in a blog tour for The Lonely Ones. At first I was skeptical as I have been hearing about all these blogger scandals. I checked out the website and I realized that I had heard about this blog before. I read the synopsis and I agreed. I thought that I wouldn’t enjoy the book once I started reading it. I am happy to report that I loved this book!

When Fain was younger her family used to be happy and close. Then one day her father lost his job as a car seller. Her mother was in law school at the time and she dropped out because of the bills. Then the fighting started. Her older siblings Dana and Tyler moved on. Tyler started dating and going to parties. While Dana became externally glued to her phone. Only her younger brother Peter interacted with her.

Upon moving the situation only worsened. The fights continued. Her father still had difficulty finding a job. Meanwhile her mother worked in a fast food restaurant. Dana and Tyler continue on as they were earlier and Peter continues to play with Fain. Fain despite having Peter feels alone. Her voice isn’t heard over the fighting and no one notices her. Then one day while she was sleeping some monsters come at her window and invite her to play. These monsters later become the only friends she has.

One day a new boy comes to their school. Much to Fain’s surprise the new boy Matthew actually talks to her. Fain’s not used to people interacting with so she has a hard time answering simple questions because she is in awe that someone actually saw her and is now speaking to her. Matthew continues to hang out with Fain. The two form a friendship. Fain’s neighbour Anna is another person who sees her and they occasionally talk. Eventually becoming friends. For awhile Fain stops talking to the monsters. And circumstances have it that Fain and her siblings become close again.

Then Matthew and Anna hurt her and she goes right back to the monsters. But this time she has her siblings by her side. And she’s okay with that. Eventually Anna and Fain make up and then she has Anna by her side as well. By the end of the book Fain has stopped talking to her monsters. Her family is happy and she has a real friend in Anna. 

The most interesting thing about this book is the writing style. Each chapter is short and formatted the way a poem is written. There are chapters titles that go along with the poem format. This was quite unique and enjoyable! The book is short and I had it finished in two hours.

The author did an excellent job with the characters! They are completely realistic and so are there interactions with one-another. While Fain’s family wasn’t happy all the time they were there for each other. Her friendship with Anna was sweet to read about! I connected with Fain. I understood where she was coming from. It was interesting to read about the monsters and the stories Fain wrote. I was happy when Fain stopped seeing the monsters and became friends with Anna and her family. It was also nice that there wasn’t a romance!

This book is about finding our own voice. And understanding that while you may feel like you don’t matter there is always someone who cares about you. It’s about family. No matter how tough your current situation is there is always someone by your side.

Overall this was a wonderful and touching book! I recommend it to everyone because this is an important read and everyone will be able to connect to Fain. Also keep a tissue box with you while reading.